What Car? Reader Awards 2009 - Small family cars

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There's only one five-star car in this class – the Skoda Octavia. It also came top in our JD Power Customer Satisfaction survey. The Skoda held off stiff competition from the Hyundai i30 and the latest Volkswagen Golf, which is already getting rave reviews. The Volvo S40 is at the bottom of the class, but its average score of 3.4 is respectable.

The best: Skoda Octavia
Eric Suen
'Reliability is more important to me than anything – I just want a faithful car. So far, mine seems well built. I like the audio system, short-shift gearchange and good brakes. The boot is massive, and I love its two storage compartments. The only problem has been a missing lumbar support control knob on the driver's seat.'

John Drogan
'A growing daughter and having to carry a dog prompted the change from a Focus to the Octavia, and I've been delighted by the car so far.

'I think it looks great from most angles in its Race Blue metallic paint with the 18-inch-wheel upgrade. The only downside to this is that the rear feels a little choppy on certain surfaces, but it's not a major issue. We went camping to Scotland with a full load, including a roof box, and the car still pulled like a train, even returning 40mpg!'

The worst: Volvo S40
David Turner
'The S40 isn't the fastest in the world, but its engine is powerful enough and is smooth and quiet. Fuel economy is fair, but there's too much road noise on rough surfaces – a pity, because otherwise the car is very quiet. The cabin is good, apart from the silly radio – you can't turn traffic info on or off without going through several commands.'

What Car? Reader Awards 2009 - Open-top cars


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